BVA ramps up pressure on government on non-stun slaughter

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has written to party leaders in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of its campaign to end non-stun slaughter.

Robin Hargreaves, president of the BVA has written to the National Assembly in Wales, Stormont, and the Scottish Parliament, emphasising the alleged animal welfare issues involved in non-stun slaughter.
The Association launched its campaign at the of April this year, and has so far gained 72,000 signatures, 28,000 short of the target needed for a petition to be debated in the House of Commons.

UK and European legislation requires all animals to be stunned prior to slaughter, however an exemption on religious ground allows for animals to be slaughtered without stunning if the meat is to be consumed by certain communities - Dhabihah slaughter for Halal food and Shechita slaughter for Kosher food.

Around 90% percent of halal slaughter is also pre-stunned, therefore the amount of un-stunned meat being consumed is believed to be relatively small, however according to the BVA scientific evidence shows the slaughter without pre-stunning compromises animal welfare.

In Hargreaves letter to the party members, he said the BVA is not concerned with the practising of religious belief, “but with the throat cutting of animals that have not been rendered insensible to pain”.

He also aimed to highlight the need to differentiate between non-stun and religious slaughter in relation to food labelling.

“Proposals to label all Halal and Kosher products will do nothing to inform the public about the very proper concerns regarding welfare at slaughter and could fuel further confusion and potentially feed prejudice,” read the letter.

“Halal labelling does not recognise that around 88% of halal slaughter in the UK is pre-stunned. At the same time the 12% that isn’t stunned, along with the hindquarters of animals slaughtered by the Shechita method that are not Kosher, could continue to enter the mainstream food chain unlabelled.”

The BVA said it wanted the labelling discussion to move away from one about ‘halal’ and ‘kosher’ and instead to focus on whether meat is stunned or not.

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